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Labor Movement

  • I always said we not only wanted labor laws and bread, we wanted roses too. I was amused some years later when Oppenheim wrote a story called 'Bread and Roses.' There is a song, too, with that title in the labor songbooks.

  • ... there is nothing more American than the trade-union movement.

  • Today, for many people, being a union member simply means paying dues, but in the early days there were so few of us that if a majority of the members were not active, the union ceased to exist.

  • To me, the labor movement was never just a way of getting higher wages. What appealed to me was the spiritual side of a great cause that created fellowship. You wanted the girl or the man who worked beside you to be treated just as well as you were, and an injury to one was the concern of all.

  • Human history is work history. The heroes of the people are work heroes.

  • I had never before seen my friends come in beaten, their heads laid open, their noses broken, or seen them jailed for peaceably demonstrating that they wanted work. I had only known how workers lived. Now I was face to face with what our society did to workers who could get no work.

  • ... all the laws made for the betterment of workers' lives have their origin with the workers. Hours are shortened, wages go up, condition are better — only if the workers protest.

  • ... a labor victory must be economic and it must be revolutionizing.

  • The wage-earning class the world over are the victims of society.

  • The trade agreement has become a rather distinct feature of the American labor movement. ... It is based on the idea that labor shall accept the capitalist system of production and make terms of peace with it.

  • The origin of the labor movement lies in self-defense ...

  • [On union organizing in the '20s and '30s:] The women used their songs to organize coal mining families into the union. They were one of the most effective organizing tools because they captured the spiritual, emotional, and physical feelings of people who were dying of starvation while they fought some of the bloodiest battles union organizing has ever known.

  • Come all of you good workers, / Good news to you I'll tell / Of how the good old union / Has come in here to dwell. / Which side are you on?

    • Florence Reece,
    • "Which Side Are You On?" (1931), in Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer, eds., Songs of Work and Protest ()
  • The workers asked only for bread and a shortening of the long hours of toil. The agitators gave them visions. The police gave them clubs.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • ... I learned in the early part of my career that labor must bear the cross for others' sins, must be the vicarious sufferer for the wrongs that others do.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • ... there are no limits to which powers of privilege will not go to keep the workers in slavery.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • Slowly those who create the wealth of the world are permitted to share it. The future is in labor's strong, rough hands.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • Human flesh, warm and soft and capable of being wounded, went naked up against steel; steel that is cold as old stars, and harder than death and incapable of pain. Bayonets and guns and steel rails and battle ships, bombs and bullets are made of steel. And only babies are made of flesh. More babies to grow up and work in steel, to hurl themselves against the bayonets, to know the tempered resistance of steel.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • ... when a laborer sweats his sweat of blood and weeps his tears of blood a remedy is thrust upon the world. I am remedy.

  • ... on their side the workers had only the Constitution. The other side had bayonets.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Linda Atkinson, Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America ()
  • Don't iron while the strike is hot.

    • Anonymous,
    • Women's Equality Day slogan (1970), in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • If we don't have workers organized into labor unions, we're in great peril of losing our democracy.

  • We want bread and roses too.

    • Anonymous,
    • slogan of Massachusetts women strikers ()